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Cricket authorities discuss if permitted use of bouncer should continue under current guidelines

  • 26.01.2021
  • JessicaMG
  • Personal-injury
  • dementia Personal Injury serious injury negligence head injury concussion rugby football Head Trauma Alzheimers head injury in sport cricket bouncer

Cricket authorities are to discuss whether the bouncer’s permitted use should continue under current guidelines.

Discussions surrounding cricket players safety have been ongoing since the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes in 2014, who died as a result of a strike to the head by a bouncer - a type of short-pitched delivery, usually bowled by a fast bowler, which bounces once and then reaches the batsman at head-height. However, the MCC – the ‘lawmakers’ in the world of cricket – have now started a consultation process which will discuss if changes are needed regarding the short-pitch delivery.

Michael Turner, medical director of the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation, told The Independent that cricket chiefs should consider an outright ban on bouncers in the junior game to limit the risk of concussion. He said:

"You want to avoid concussing the adolescent brain while it's still evolving. If stopping concussion means changing the rules to ensure that there are no short deliveries in junior cricket, this should be a serious consideration.

"Helmets are designed to prevent skull fracture. The way forward is to prevent concussion taking place – by changing the rules if necessary," he added.

Head injury in sport – a growing concern

In recent years there have been growing calls for head injuries in sport – and the actions that could be causing them - to be given further attention.

In football there is concern surrounding heading the ball and developing dementia in later life. In November 2020, Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton was the fifth member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning side to be told he has the disease.

Last year, an in-depth study into heading the ball and dementia in football players by Glasgow University compared the deaths of 7,676 former players to 23,000 from the general population and found the “first links between playing professionally and dying from dementia”. This prompted the Scottish FA to prohibit under-12s heading the ball in training, which was followed by the Football Association in England issuing updated ‘Heading Guidance’ for under 12s.

While more recently in rugby, Leeds Rhino captain Stevie Ward has retired from rugby league at the age of 27 due to concussions. He suffered two in the first two months of 2020 and still suffers with symptoms each day. Furthermore, a group of former rugby players suffering from concussion-related health problems are taking legal action against rugby union's governing bodies, accusing them of negligence over head injuries – including one who retired with brain issues at just 28.

Gary Herbet, Partner and Brain Injury Specialist within our Personal Injury team, comments:

“Whilst cricket does have protection to avoid head strikes, it is still perhaps surprising that a ball delivered at high speed with the intention of striking the head can be a legitimate part of the game.  Our understanding of the brain is constantly evolving and we are aware that brain injury can result even where there is no impact trauma to the head through diffuse axonal injury.  It is important that the cricket authorities seek specialist advice to examine the impact of helmet strikes on the brain in order to protect child and adolescent players in playing the game they love.”

Gary is a Partner within our Personal Injury team and has dealt extensively with clients who have sustained life changing catastrophic injuries for over 18 years. To speak with Gary or another member of our team regarding head injury claims or any other type of personal injury, call 0800 027 2557 or fill out the contact form at the side of this page and we will get back to you.